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LISTEN: Henry Winkler Brings His "Ayyyyy" Game To Pensacon

Georgia Barrett

Beginning in 1974, Henry Winkler became a household name starring as Arthur Fonzarelli for 11 seasons on the TV show Happy Days. Now he’s getting ready to spend three days in Pensacola at Pensacon 2017.  The day it was announced that Henry Winkler was coming to Pensacon was one of the biggest ticket sales days for the event ever. The 71 year old actor, producer, and author said he does just a few conventions a year to stay in touch with his fans.  He says when fans meet him they mostly just want a hug.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • He was once the most popular celebrity in the country. He feels that there will be other characters that capture the public's imagination the way Fonzi did. For him, it's singers and performers like Bruce Springsteen, Sia, and Bruno Mars.
  • When he auditioned for the role on Happy Days, producer Garry Marshall was looking for a six foot Italian hunk for the part. He says he nailed it in the audition by changing his voice and his way of standing and 'thinking six foot tall'.
  • He watched the show Royal Pains with his wife and when they were casting the role of Eddie Lawson, the father, on the show he really wanted the part. He went to breakfast with the producers "and I was so nervous because I really wanted to play this character. I was having pancakes. And I picked up the syrup and poured it over my pancakes as I'm talking to them about the show. And I looked down, and I realized 'Oh my God, I just poured the cream from my coffee all over my pancakes'." He got the part.
  • Winkler has been very open about his diagnosis of dyslexia. He struggled in school but did not get diagnosed until he was a working adult. "Honestly, when a child has trouble because their brain is wired differently, which is hereditary, they see that they're having a problem. And their self esteem plummets. A kid doesn't wake up in the morning and go 'Wow, I think I'm gonna be an idiot today! I think I'm gonna be disruptive today.' They can't help themselves." He says when he found out he had dyslexia, he looked at his own children and grandchildren differently. 
  • He started writing the Hank Zipzer books specifically for children with dyslexia. "With my partner Lynn Oliver we just turned in our thirty-second novel, Always Watch Out for Flying Potato Salad." Winkler tried to sell Hank Zipzer to American TV, but could not find a buyer. There is a live action Hank Zipzer show on the BBC and has completed three seasons.
  • Henry Winkler has an Order of the British Empire. "I used to do a play at Christmastime in England. And I traveled all over and visit schools and talked to the children about the concept that there's greatness inside every single person, and your job is to figure out what your greatness is." he was recognized for this work with the OBE from the Queen. 

Henry Winkler will be appearing at Pensacon 2017, February 17-19, including a solo panel Saturday morning at the Saenger Theater

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.